Novak Djokovic shrugged off a slow start to stun Rafael Nadal 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-2 in a French Open classic.
The semi-final win was one of the best wins of Djokovic’s career as he handed Nadal only his third defeat at Roland Garros.
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“It’s hard to find words bigger than all the superlatives you can think of for Rafa’s achievements [at] Roland Garros,” Djokovic said after the four hours 22 minute win.
The greatest match ever played… https://t.co/yLN0RsmPiW
— Chris Evert (@ChrissieEvert) June 11, 2021
“He has been the most dominant player of Roland Garros history. He lost [here] two, now three times, in his entire career.
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“He’s been playing here almost 20 years. That achievement speaks for itself. The amount of wins that he has made on this court is incredible.
TENNIS NEARER THE GODS.
Absolutely mindblowing from @DjokerNole and @RafaelNadal 🤯@rolandgarros #RolandGarros pic.twitter.com/g05krdau8i
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) June 11, 2021
“Each time you step on the court with him, you know that you have to climb Mount Everest to win against this guy here.”
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Djokovic was unrelenting. Even still, the Spaniard had an opportunity to take a two-sets-to-one lead.
Match stats – Djokovic v Nadal
|Stat||Novak Djokovic||Rafael Nadal|
|1st-Serve Pts Won||65% (55/85)||59% (51/86)|
|2nd-Serve Pts Won||50% (24/48)||40% (19/47)|
|Return Pts Won||47% (63/133)||41% (54/133)|
|Net Pts Won||65% (20/31)||73% (11/15)|
|Break Pts Converted||36% (8/22)||38% (6/16)|
The World No. 1 had missed a mid-court forehand when serving for the third set at 5-4, 30/0, and in a flash Nadal had a set point at 6-5.
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Nadal almost never lets slip those moments — that is how he entered this match 105-2 at Roland Garros.
One of the very best matches I’ve seen. Well done to Novak and Rafa. Brilliant tennis.
Massive props to Nole after digging himself out of a 0/5 hole in that 1st set.
Djokovic vs Tsitsipas for the 2021 RG title 💪
— Darren Cahill (@darren_cahill) June 11, 2021
Pleasure to watch this matchup. Unreal effort/execution from Novak. He was the better player on the day. What a match …
— andyroddick (@andyroddick) June 11, 2021
But the Serbian answered the challenge with a daring backhand drop shot, and he won the ensuing tie-break, in which Nadal mishit an easy forehand volley long.
“I had a big chance with set point, 6-5, second serve [in the third set]. That’s it. Anything could happen in that moment,” Nadal said.
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“Then I made a double fault, [missed an] easy volley in the tie-break. But it’s true that [there were] crazy points out there. The fatigue is there, too. These kind of mistakes can happen.
“But if you want to win, you can’t make these mistakes. So that’s it. Well done for him. [It was] a good fight out there. I tried my best, and today was not my day.”
Phenomenal performance from @DjokerNole . Showing us why he is no.1 What a match from 2 of the greats of the game.
— Greg Rusedski (@GregRusedski1) June 11, 2021
Nadal was chasing a record 21st Grand Slam title, which would have moved him past Roger Federer to stand alone atop the all-time list.
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But now Djokovic is one victory from completing a second Career Grand Slam and earn his 19th major crown, which would put him within one of Federer and Nadal.
Djokovic will take on Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday’s final. The Greek had defeated Alexander Zverev 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3 in three hours and 37 minutes to make his maiden Grand Slam final.